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Napolitano: Hopeful for immigration reform in 2010

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This morning Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (or as I lovingly call her – J Nap) spoke about immigration reform at the Center for American Progress. While I wasn’t able to attend, I followed along via Twitter thanks to America’s Voice and Voto Latino.

Though much of Sec. Napolitano’s perspective emphasized enforcement – no shock there – she also stated that she is hopeful about immigration reform in early 201o. This is welcome news amidst a lot of speculation and pessimism as to whether reform will even come up for debate early next year. Sec. Napolitano noted that much has changed this time around in the debate. Perhaps the most notable is the new allies joining in the fight for reform.

Here’s the other thing that has shifted in this debate: a larger segment of the American public has embraced the need to engage this debate and arrive at a sensible solution to this problem.

There are leaders of the law enforcement community speaking out, saying that immigration reform is vital to their ability to do their jobs keeping Americans safe. Faith leaders, including the National Association of Evangelicals, have announced their support for immigration reform as a moral and practical issue. We are seeing more business leaders and more labor leaders engaged in this debate in a constructive way than we have ever seen before.

These constituencies have all arrived at the same conclusion that prevails among the American people: this is a problem that needs to be fixed—and the best way to ensure that we can uphold our laws is to make sure our laws are rational and enforceable.

This is a huge point of strength that shows hope for immigration reform efforts in 2010. We have new communities and constituencies on our side and they aren’t just the same old familiar faces. The anti’s who have been screaming for years about law and order now have to answer to law enforcement officials who are chiming in to say that they can’t enforce the laws on the books because those laws are outdated. Business leaders and the Labor community, who before have had a tenuos relationship with immigration reform efforts are fully on board this time around, with a plan for how this reform will boost both the economy and the rights of workers across the board.

In short, its a different landscape for immigration reform in 2010. There is the support for this legislation, but we must keep pressure on Congress to act.

Sec. Napolitano reaffirmed President Obama’s committment to the issue, saying:

The President is committed to this issue because the need for immigration reform is so clear. This Administration does not shy away from taking on the big challenges of the 21st century, challenges that have been ignored too long and hurt our families and businesses. When Congress is ready to act, we will be ready to support them.

With Representative Luis Gutierrez hosting a National town hall on immigration reform next week – and thousands of people participating across the country – its clear that there are champions in Congress who are ready to move on this issue.

So, Chuck Schumer, where you at? Who wants to start sending him calendars  as per suggestions last week? You promised us a bill and we’re ready to see it.

H/T to Erin Rosa at the CampusProgress Blog and Jackie Mahendra at America’s Voice.

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